Birth certificates have been used to marginalize people in the United States for centuries and we’re still seeing it happen today with the transgender community. Not too long ago—2016 to be exact—North Carolina lawmakers attempted to pass a law that required transgender people to use public bathrooms matching the gender on their birth certificates. The controversial bill was fortunately repealed the following year. But it looks like we’re slowly making strides in this department because Puerto Rico is finally allowing transgender people on the island to update their gender marker on their birth certificates to reflect their gender identity. This is massive deal.
The new change comes as per a ruling on a lawsuit against Puerto Rico’s original ban against updating gender markers on birth certificates. The case is referred to as the Arroyo v. Rosselló case. Plaintiffs Puerto Rico Para Tod@s, Daniela Arroyo, Victoria Rodríguez Roldán and J.G., who were represented by Lambda Legal all sued the island’s government. The ruling’s verdict was that forcing a transgender person to reveal the gender they were born with, was a complete violation of their human rights. Not to mention, humiliating.
“The right to identify our own existence lies at the heart of one’s humanity. And so, we must heed their voices: ‘the woman that I am,’ ‘the man that I am,’” Judge Carmen Consuelo wrote.
“It is a huge relief to finally have an accurate birth certificate that is a true reflection of who I am,” Arroyo said in a statement. “It makes me feel safer and like my country finally recognized me.”
In fact, the new ruling could mean that the next Miss Puerto Rico Universe could be a transgender woman. Former Miss Universe 2001 and pageant director, Denise Quiñones announced last Monday that transwomen who have changed their gender marker on their birth certificates are now eligible to participate in the beauty pageant.
“Since this year, Miss Universe [Puerto Rico] has followed the parameters of Miss Universe and as it is in our contract right now that the doors are open for any woman to participate,” she said in a statement.
This is amazing news and huge progress for Puerto Rico. It is inhumane to discriminate and humiliate an individual based on how they identity and it’s about time Puerto Rico’s government acknowledges that. Let’s keep fighting that states like Kansas, Ohio, and Tennessee eventually due away with their conservative policies that still ban transgender individuals from updating the gender on their birth certificates.